Chinese vessels are accused by Vanuatu police, with support from the US Coast Guard, of breaking fishing restrictions

Following an inspection by local police on board the first US Coast Guard vessel to patrol the waters of the nation of Pacific Islands, it was discovered that six Chinese fishing vessels were in violation of Vanuatu’s fisheries law, according to Vanuatu police and officials. A fisheries official told Reuters that among the infractions was the failure to enter the fish taken into logbooks. The official also mentioned that this was the first time in a number of years that Chinese boats fishing in Vanuatu’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) could be inspected by the police. The boats then discharge their catch in other nations.


A Reuters analysis of ship registration information and corporate documents revealed that CNFC Overseas Fisheries, a Chinese state-owned business that has a joint venture with the government of Vanuatu, is the owner of one of the Chinese vessels that the police claimed had broken the law. Penalty warnings will be issued to multiple Chinese corporations and their local agents in Vanuatu, according to Mr. Yakar Silas, principal monitoring, control, and surveillance officer with the Fisheries Department of Vanuatu. He said that Chinese fishing fleets headquartered overseas that fished in Vanuatu waters were responsible for the majority of the breaches. He claimed that the patrol provided an opportunity to check international fishing vessels that are fishing in Vanuatu waters but are not docking and dumping their catch in other countries, such as Fiji.


Requests for comments from the Chinese embassies in Vanuatu and Fiji, the locations of some of the Chinese warships, were unanswered. In an e-mail to Reuters, Sino-Van director Zhang Junwei stated that Prime Minister Charlot Salwai is “supportive of the Sino-Van project.” He said that the CNFC vessel that was shown in Coast Guard photos did not come from the company’s Vanuatu division. For the first time last week, US Coast Guard cutter Harriet Lane was able to patrol Vanuatu waters. Vanuatu’s port was closed to a Coast Guard vessel in 2023 while it was patrolling the area for illicit fishing.

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